About Peter Dorward
Peter Dorward was born in St Andrews in 1963. Having been a hop-picker, international aid-worker, pub musician and a runner for a film crew, he now works as a GP and medical teacher in Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner Deborah and their two boys. Peter Dorward is a winner of the 2000 Canongate/Waterstones short story prize and the 1997 Fish short story competition. Nightingale is his first novel.
Praise for Peter Dorward
‘Nightingale is a gripping and intelligent novel; it takes an unsentimental and vivid look at the lives of a small group of Italian terrorists and the naive Scottish musician who finds himself in their midst in Bologna in 1980. Full of authentic detail and texture, Nightingale is written with clarity and precision. Peter Dorward tells this tragic story with huge confidence and verve.’
'A gripping read ... moving, chilling and all-too-plausible... The writing is vivid, economical, varied. It is alive to nuance and suggestion, dealing in emotional, cultural and psychological credibility.'
Andrew Greig, The Scotsman
‘A richly imagined novel ... grippingly alert to the passions and fashions of its time.’ Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
‘A gripping study of innocence lost ... a thriller writer’s feel for pace but a poet’s sensibility.’ Adrian Turpin, Financial Times
'A narrative that is utterly convincing and powerfully characterised.'
For a review in The List, see the following link: http://www.list.co.uk/article/5417-peter-dorward-review/
An interview with Peter Dorward
When did you first begin writing, and what inspired you to do so? Have any specific books/authors served as inspiration for you?
I began writing when I was working as a doctor in a remote community in the Bolivian Andes. I was left very much to my own devices, and living in a vast, high, desert landscape, I took to taking long walks alone to pass the afternoons. That was when the voices first started….
I was reading a lot of long, dense Latin American novels and poetry at the time: Marquez, Llosa, Neruda- that kind of thing. I was particularly consumed by Llosa’s story - El Hablador - about a Peruvian Anthropologist who loses himself in the world and culture that he is studying. The book spoke very directly to me, in my situation as it was then, trying to communicate with patients and their families across a vast cultural and linguistic divide. I wanted, powerfully, to make something of my own, as finely crafted, as complete as his, but using my own language and world. I’ve been trying that ever since.
Can you tell us something about the inspiration behind Nightingale? And about what you were trying to achieve, what ideas you were trying to convey?
Nightingale started with the story of a friend of a friend, who got off a train in Italy in the summer of 1980, to buy some milk. While he was gone, a bomb went off in the station, and he wandered back, into the carnage, in a dazed state. The experience altered him for ever.
I wanted to explore ideas of responsibility: what happens when you have to face, in adulthood, the consequences of the actions of the youth that you have turned your back on, and the need, in adulthood, to stay loyal to the naïve, idealistic, selfish, plain stupid, youth, who made you what you are.
How do you go about creating your voice on the page?
You develop your own voice by practicing: by being endlessly self-obsessed, and turning every sentence round and round, perfecting it, before throwing it away and starting again. It’s important not to be too precious - you need to show work to people who will be unafraid to tell you that it’s no good.
What do you enjoy reading? What are you reading that you can recommend at the moment?
At present, I read anything by Don Paterson and David Mitchell.